Poultry trade n smuggling and H5N1 flu spread

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    Martin W

      It's perhaps worth looking at some known incidences of

      smuggling of poultry and other birds

      as surely potential for transporting H5N1 poultry flu – indeed, H5N1 has been detected in birds smuggled to Taiwan; and only known incidences so far of H5N1 in western Europe have been in smuggled birds.

      "duck meat smuggled from eastern China and intercepted in Taiwan in 2003." contained H5N1

      "In midnight of October 14, 2005, Taiwan Coast Guard Administration confiscated 1,037 birds from a freighter of which the ship staff smuggled the birds from China into Taichung. … test results confirmed that those smuggled birds were infected with highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5N1 virus."


      Thai eagles smuggled into Belgium were infected with H5N1

      Highly Pathogenic H5N1 Influenza Virus in Smuggled Thai Eagles, Belgium

      "The only incidence of H5N1 in the UK, so far during this outbreak, was linked to trade in caged birds (the infamous parrot)."

      "Chinese-raised poultry, banned in the United States out of fear of spreading diseases, is nonetheless reaching markets and restaurants in the United States after escaping detection at borders.

      Outbreaks of bird flu in Asia have led the government to step up its anti-smuggling operations. In a two-month period this fall, 165,000 pounds of Asian poultry was seized, according to figures compiled in the Department of Agriculture."

      There's poultry smuggling from China to Hong Kong, for instance: "Customs officers seized $450,000 worth of smuggled chilled poultry from a river trade vessel from Zhuhai during an anti-smuggling operation yesterday (March 22). While patrolling in the waters off Shek Kwu Chau at about 4pm, a Customs launch intercepted and searched a vessel declared to be containing potatoes. As a result, Customs officers found a large quantity of chilled poultry, including 1,158 cartons of geese, 688 cartons of ducks, 465 cartons of chicken, and 17 cartons of pigeons."

      In Laos: "The officials must monitor poultry sales at markets to prevent traders from selling poultry smuggled in from neighbouring countries in a bid to prevent the entry of bird flu into the country."

      also (maybe not smuggling): "an outbreak of H5N1 among poultry in Lhasa, Tibet, in January 2004 was traced to a shipment of chickens from Lanzhou in China’s Gansu Province, about 1500 kilometers away. "

      Martin W

        Mongolian customs officers did not pass into the country 300 kg of the Chinese chicken meat

        On the Mongolian custom-house Of zamyn-Uude is avoided an attempt at
        the import from China 300 kg of the meat of hen. On this on 24 March
        to the correspondent IA REGNUM the colleague for the customs
        administration of Mongolia described.

        The point of the customs passage Of zamyn-Uude is located in the
        southeastern part of the Mongolia. According to the customs officers,
        in the course of the customs inspection of automobile “uaz-ya’9” it
        is discovered by 300 kg of the meat of bird. “in connection with the
        bird influenza the import of the meat of bird from China to Mongolia
        is forbidden by Mongolian legislation, says the colleague of
        custom-house. – for the transportation is necessary the special
        permission, which in this case was not “.

        Furthermore, customs officer described that in China the number of
        patients with bird influenza increases, and the meat of bird, sold in
        those infected by bird influenza territories, stands very cheaply how
        use merchants

        – some time ago, I suggested on a forum that areas infected by H5N1, and nearby areas, likely to have cheap poultry, which could be one reason for spread into new areas (buying chicken going cheep). Got pilloried for it, for reasons I don’t know [well, other than a Nimanist responding]; still seems likely to me.

        Martin W

          “Bird flu outbreak feared as chicken smugglers gear up”

          QUANG NINH — Authorities at Quang Ninh Province have stepped up
          efforts to catch chicken smugglers, following fears that more
          chickens will be smuggled into Viet Nam via sea routes or with the
          aid of fake safety labels during the next few months.

          Chickens have largely been smuggled into Viet Nam via border gates.

          In the northern province of Quang Ninh, which borders China, border
          guards last month confiscated dozens of large cases filled with

          Permanent member of the provincial anti-smuggling board, Nguyen Dang
          Truong, said the problem became more serious in early March.

          As smuggled chickens are usually birds that have been discarded in
          their countries of origin, they are sold at a much lower price than
          domestic chickens, earning smugglers a substantial profit.

          The smugglers often hire porters to transport chicken coops via
          rivers, streams or pathways into border areas. Porters then load the
          chickens into vans or concealed spaces in coaches or boats.

          Authorities said they have seized 35 cases since last month, of which
          almost 31,000kg of chickens, 200,000 eggs and 33 calves were

          The traders had neither certificates to verify the origin of the
          chickens or veterinarian’s quarantine records.

          Authorities have warned of the potential for new outbreaks of bird
          flu, as border guards could only control a small number of smuggled

          The provincial People’s Committee has held continuous meetings to
          call for officials from the agriculture, veterinary and health care
          sectors to instigate concrete action against the smuggling.

          Authorities at the border gates of Ka Long in Mong Cai, Hoanh Mo in
          Binh Lieu and Bac Phong Sinh in Hai Ha were asked to instruct locals
          to not participate in the trading of smuggled goods or abet smugglers
          in any way.

          The province will devote more staff to fight smugglers, develop
          facilities at border gates and set up more check-points along roads,
          sea ports and stations to prevent smuggled chickens from being
          brought to the country.

          Local border soldiers, customs officers and market watch officials
          will also adopt more drastic measures to control the problem,
          authorities said. — VNS

          Martin W

            HANOI, April 6 (Reuters) –

            Vietnam has found the bird flu virus in chickens smuggled from China, the first case in poultry since December, officials said on Thursday. The state-run Vietnam Economic Times newspaper reported that Animal Health Institute tests confirmed the presence of the H5 virus component in chickens seized in the northern border province of Lang Son, 154 km (96 miles) north of Hanoi. It was not immediately known if the virus was the deadly H5N1 strain that has killed over 100 people in parts of Asia and the Middle East since 2003. Institute officials could not be reached for comment but a provincial official said smuggling was tough to prevent. "The smugglers come in small groups and by various small ways so it’s been difficult to stop all of them," … Hoang Van Nam, deputy head of the Agriculture Ministry-run Animal Health Department, said poultry smuggling from China posed a serious threat to public health. This week Vietnam increased border control measures to prevent a resurgence of bird flu, but officials said the work was not always a success. Vietnamese northerners join the lucrative illegal trade of chickens over the border with China because they can sell the birds in Vietnam at 10 times their buying price. State media said officials seized around 20,000 chickens, 126,000 eggs and 1,000 ducks trafficked into Lang Son and Quang Ninh in March alone. They gave no comparative figures.

            Martin W

              “Secret sale of smuggled ‘bird flu-infected’ chicks alleged”

              RAJSHAHI, Apr 8: Apprehending spread of ‘Bird Flu’ virus through
              smuggled Indian infected chicks, the police, the poultry farm owners
              and the authorities of the Animal Resource Division have burnt 6,750
              pieces of chick in Paba and Durgapur upazilas of Rajshahi and in
              Natore Sadar Upazila recently.

              Meanwhile, at least 1,750 ‘Bird Flu’ infected chicks have been
              secretly sold to unspecified customers by some dishonest poultry farm
              owners in Durgapur, it is alleged.

              The police recently seized 2,000 pieces of infected Indian smuggled
              chicks from the possession of Shahadat Hosain in Shalgharia village
              under Durgapur Upazila and deposited those to the local office of the
              Department of Animal Resources.

              The authorities concerned dug a large hole beside the boundary wall
              of the office of the Upazila Nirbahi Officer (UNO) and a sackful of
              chicks were dumped under earth in presence of the police.

              But local people said there were only 250 pieces of chick in that
              sack as against the seized 2,000 chicks. Abdur Rashid, a peon of the
              Animal Resource Division office in Durgapur, said out of 2,000 pieces
              of affected chick, Shahdat managed to sell 600 pieces of chick to one
              Maik of the same village and 400 chicks to one Harun of Pachubari
              village with the help of the police.

              Until writing of this report, the whereabouts of the rest of the
              chicks could not be known.

              Meanwhile, poultry farm owners of Rajshahi recently seized 800 pieces
              of smuggled Indian chick from the Rajshahi Court building area and
              deposited those to the local BDR members.

              The BDR men, however, burnt those chicks by pouring petrol. On the
              other hand, on the basis of allegation the police seized 5,700 pieces
              of smuggled chicks from a pick-up van and burnt those. No one was
              arrested in this connection.


                Smugglers undercut fight against bird flu
                By Elisabeth Rosenthal International Herald Tribune

                THURSDAY, APRIL 13, 2006

                MILAN – Last month, two vans of police inspectors, undercover in jeans and sneakers, pulled up at a storefront near the Piazza Morselli on a sensitive raid, a matter of national well-being and security. Their target was not terrorists, weapons or drugs. It was smuggled Asian poultry – a product at risk for carrying bird flu.

                While sorting through a refrigerator at the back of the Chinese grocery store, the inspectors found their quarry: bags of unlabeled refrigerated duck feet that General Emilio Borghini, head of the Military Police Health Service, deemed “suspicious.”

                A similar raid at a warehouse here a few months ago yielded three million packages of chicken meat smuggled from China in unmarked packages, even though such imports have been banned in the European Union since 2002.

                There is increasing evidence, experts say, that a thriving international trade in smuggled poultry products – including birds, chicks, eggs, meat, feathers and other products – is making a substantial contribution to the spread of the H5N1 bird flu virus.

                Poultry smuggling turned out to be a huge and previously largely overlooked business, perhaps second only to narcotics in international contraband, experts and government officials believe. H5N1 is a robust virus that survives not just in live birds but in frozen meat, feathers, bones, and on used cages – although it dies with cooking.

                “No one knows the real numbers, but they are large; behind illegal drug traffic, illegal animals are No. 2,” said Timothy Moore, an official at the University of Nebraska who has advised the U.S. government on agricultural disaster planning. “And there is no doubt in my mind that this will play a prominent role in the spread of this disease. It looks to be the main way it is spreading in some parts of the world.”

                Illegal trade seriously undermines the bans on poultry products from bird flu-infected countries that many governments have enacted in the hopes of stemming spread of the disease.

                “In spite of the EU ban we are still seizing Chinese poultry products,” Borghini said.

                Many experts are convinced that the illegal import of infected chicks introduced the virus into Nigeria, setting off Africa’s first and largest epidemic, which is limited to poultry farms and has not affected wild birds.

                This week, Vietnamese health officials said chickens smuggled over the border from China had reintroduced bird flu into their nation, which had reported no cases for four months.

                No one has any precise sense of the extent of the trade – or the importance of it role in spreading bird flu – because until recently, poultry smuggling was regarded mostly as an economic nuisance.

                “I would love to have a map of illegal trade – but I’m embarrassed to say we don’t have a good handle on it,” said Juan Lubroth, a senior veterinarian at the UN Food and Agriculture Organization in Rome. “We all know it occurs and we are worried, but what we see confiscated is only the tip of the iceberg.”

                The police and experts say the trade is hard to control because such massive amounts cross borders in trucks, carts, planes and boats each day. Smuggled meat from Asia is often loaded in containers with a mish-mash of other goods – from clothes and toys to furniture. Labels indicating the port of origin are easily falsified.

                “We’re aware that the risk to public health can be hidden in these containers, but thousands of containers pass through Italian ports and it is impossible to inspect them all,” said Mario Pantano, director of the Police Health Service in southern Italy, who said his staff had found hidden poultry products stuffed into shoes.

                Late last year, his team discovered a shipment of 260 tons of meat scattered among several containers transiting at a port in Calabria in southern Italy, destined for the tiny East European country of Moldova. Because of improper paperwork, the inspectors started asking questions and determined that the shipment had come from China. They worried the smuggled meat would soon be in Italy.

                “The meat was officially destined for countries on the doorstep of the European Union and we knew that the chickens could be relabeled and illegally re-enter Italy for our consumption,” Pantano said, noting that such “triangulation” was known to occur but experts had little sense how common it was.

                Although many countries attribute the spread of H5N1 to migratory fowl, many ornithologists say the evidence often points to smuggling. “We believe it is spread by both bird migration and trade, but that trade – particularly illegal trade – is more important,” said Wade Hagemeijer, a bird flu expert

                at the Netherlands-based Wetlands International, which has been studying the role of migrating birds.

                “Unfortunately it’s very difficult to get good information about smuggling, and it’s convenient to blame wild birds, since then no one has to admit that their borders are out of control.”

                Although bird flu has now been detected on many farms in several African nations, there have been only a handful of reports in wild birds on the continent, supporting the notion that trade is most important there.

                “We’re been looking for it in wild birds for the last two months and it is surprising that we’ve come up with zero,” Lubroth said, noting that scattered outbreaks in the wild might be particularly hard to detect in Africa.

                The effect of smuggling can sometimes be direct, when sick birds are smuggled onto farms. The H5N1 virus strain found on the farms involved in Nigeria’s first outbreak, in northern Kano state, closely matched those found on Chinese farms, Hagemeijer said.

                Nancy Morgan, an economist at the UN Food and Agriculture Organization in Rome, said illegal trade could have “easily” introduced bird flu into Nigeria and Egypt, the two African countries with the most extensive bird flu problems.

                “In developing countries, the border controls are marginal at best, because of weak institutions and corruption,” she said.

                However, she added, “As long as there’s economic incentive, it will happen.”

                Producers in Egypt and Nigeria frequently import day-old chicks for about 20 cents a bird, she said, because it was easier to buy them than to master the delicate technology of hatching. In Nigeria, 100 percent were smuggled and therefore not inspected, because all imports were banned by the Nigerian government to protect its young domestic industry.

                “The government policies created the illegal trade,” said an official at the U.S. Embassy in Lagos, Nigeria, who spoke on condition of anonymity, adding that some products certainly came from Asia. “The industry was growing at 8 percent annually and it needed imports, from parent stock to hatching eggs. Everything comes in illegally.”

                Since H5N1 lives through most slaughtering and shipping, smuggled poultry products of many types can bring the virus into a country: infected chicken parts in feed or fertilizer, secondhand cages used to house infected birds, or cheap meat that ends up being used on a farm or in a home where other birds are kept.

                “These routes are all legitimate to worry about, all possible, all likely,” said Moore, who noted an outbreak of a much milder avian virus in the United States was caused when straw containing infected chicken feces came onto a farm.

                The main concern is China, a country with a serious avian influenza problem and also formerly a major exporter of chicken and poultry products. There is extensive illegal trade between China and Africa, experts say.

                In the developing world, the illegal trade often has economic roots, as businesspeople try to avoid duties. But there is a strong cultural element as well. For example, Asian immigrants seek out poultry products, like feet, that may not be available in the West. The illegal meat that has been seized in Italy has been at Chinese stores or warehouses servicing Chinese restaurants.

                “Black chicken is our big, big headache,” said Borghini, referring to a type of dark-skinned chicken that, according to traditional Asian belief, has medicinal properties.

                Several months ago, Milan’s health inspectors noticed that all of the Chinese restaurants in Milan bought their poultry from a single distributor and thought it seemed suspicious. When they conducted a surprise raid at the warehouse of Euro Food International in Milan, they discovered three million packages of meat from China.


                Martin W

                  more on bird smuggling: an extensive problem

                  A GOVERNMENT inquiry has been launched into an illegal bird-smuggling
                  racket that has exposed serious flaws in Ireland’s defences against
                  avian flu.

                  A Sunday Times investigation has revealed that a consignment of
                  exotic birds was brought illegally into Rosslare harbour on Good
                  Friday and sold to dealers in Dublin, Cork, Waterford, Wexford,
                  Limerick and Portlaoise, even though officials had detailed knowledge
                  of the plans in advance. Up to 30 of the birds died in transit and
                  were dumped in plastic bags in the midlands.

                  Some of the birds are believed to have come from eastern Europe,
                  where the deadly H5N1 virus has been confirmed. The carcasses have
                  not been recovered. The remaining birds, dispatched across Ireland,
                  have not been quarantined, despite being transported with the dead

                  Under EU and Irish law, the agriculture department must be told 24
                  hours before birds can be imported into Irish ports and airports, but
                  breeders say thousands of birds are brought illegally into Ireland
                  each year.

                  The trade in wild birds is highly lucrative, second only to drug
                  dealing. A special unit has been established by the NPWS to crack
                  down on the illegal trapping and trading of wild birds and several
                  prosecutions are pending….

                  Officials fail to halt bird smugglers

                  Martin W
                    The government has acknowledged there are holes in its defenses aimed at halting poultry smuggling.
                    Conservationists want authorities to stop the trafficking of poultry from the mainland, an act that they say occurs in broad daylight in Hong Kong waters.

                    The government does not carry out tests to determine if chickens on sale in village wet markets have been smuggled in. This is something that bothers conservationists.

                    “[Smugglers] are packing the frozen meat in China and saying it’s from other sources. It’s easy to just print a box,” says Paul Hodgson, a reef specialist who runs a marine consultancy business in Sai Kung, and has spent time observing smugglers.

                    He said that, on one occasion, he had found more than 60 tonnes of chicken meat on the reefs, some of it in boxes marked “Belgium.”

                    Smugglers use small fishing boats, called P4s, to offload poultry onto islands in New Territories country parks.

                    In some cases, local fishermen and villagers remove the chicken from the reefs and islands where it is sometimes dumped to avoid detection. Hodgson says such chicken can sometimes end up in village freezers and wet markets.

                    He says Customs and Excise Department officers should be arresting these poultry smugglers, but instead much of their time is taken up with efforts to detect pirated DVDs that are being smuggled in.

                    The department disagrees with Hodgson’s assertion.

                    An official says the department’s initiative to stop smuggling, called Operation Eagle, has, since its commencement in October, netted 255,151 kilograms of poultry up to the end of December, and “28 live chickens/birds at the air, land and sea boundary.”

                    From the start of the year through to April 12, a further 22,490 kilograms have been seized, but the customs official did not say where that illegal meat was seized.

                    “I think they are culling the chickens [in China] and putting them in boxes, saying they’re from Belgium, and sending it out.”

                    He wonders: “Why don’t they just bring it into Hong Kong? It would have cleared through customs.”

                    They do not bring it into Hong Kong because of fears about avian flu and the government’s screening measures. The government says it does everything in its power to control the flow of poultry into Hong Kong, especially in the wake of the avian flu fears in the past year.

                    But it does not use testing “regularly” to verify whether frozen meat in village markets actually comes from legitimate sources, according to an information officer at the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department.

                    “Officers are deployed [in village wet markets] randomly to check the live chickens, but not to check whether they are smuggled,” the information officer says.

                    She also said it is common practice for inspectors to check receipts of meat sales to vendors if, in certain cases, it is suspected the meat had been brought in illegally.

                    “According to our inspections, if they cannot show the receipts, we would follow up case by case. Sometimes we would charge them, but first we would seize the meat,” the officer says.

                    The department checks for certificates that verify the chicken had been brought in legally.

                    Hodgson recommends that the government first find out where the chicken is being shipped from, and in this way someone can search for a solution to ease any fears over chicken meat.

                    “Get some of the chicken … and find out where the hell it is actually coming from,” Hodgson says.

                    “What I think is that the government doesn’t want to know, so they are not going to do it.”….

                    Smuggling fears on chicken

                    Martin W

                      By MARGIE MASON | Associated Press April 27, 2006

                      LANG SON, Vietnam (AP) – Hired runners strap bamboo cages loaded with 20 live chickens onto their backs in China. Under cover of darkness, they navigate well-worn footpaths across a mountain into Vietnam, where bicycles wait to haul the clucking contraband away. The smugglers easily evade patrols along the rugged 1,350-kilometer (840-mile) border by using two-way radios and a network of illegal crossings that have become gateways for a new threat _ bird flu. Vietnam estimates about 4,500 chickens are trafficked into the country this way every day from China in a trade that is nearly impossible to police because of scarce resources. The H5N1 bird flu virus has recently shown up in samples taken from confiscated birds, raising the stakes in Vietnam’s battle to shift from the hardest-hit country to one that has successfully contained the virus. "I think there is a very large undercover, underground trade that is going on," said Dr. Jeff Gilbert, an animal health expert at the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization in Vietnam. "I think the biggest risk of re-infection (in Vietnam) is infection from China." [So, FAO thinks there’s a big underground trade now? Why so little word of this from FAO over past year or more, when FAO has been so busy blaming wild birds?] Many scientists [hmm; some scientists, and many idiots; even some idiotic scientists] believe much of the worldwide spread of H5N1 is linked to the migration of wild birds, but the Paris-based World Organization for Animal Health says it is investigating the possible role smuggling has played in some countries. [Taken them time, but at last may be after right culprit, not just the Tooth Fairy Bird]

                      Last year, Taiwan confirmed its first case of bird flu, which was found in birds smuggled from China. A Nigerian official also has blamed illegal poultry imports for introducing the virus there earlier this year, though agency spokeswoman Maria Zampaglione said that has not been confirmed. She said the organization is recommending that governments worldwide pay more attention to the illegal trade of poultry, but said China is not specifically being looked at as a source. Chinese officials have not responded to queries about whether smuggling has occurred. … a global smuggling network that has long existed hasn’t been shut down by new bird flu precautions. "There’s lots of illicit movements of livestock products around the world," said Dr. Peter Roeder, an animal health expert at the FAO’s base in Rome. "The meat comes in packed in vegetable containers and with other goods and the customs authorities just find it extremely difficult to be on top and inspecting everything."

                      In the past, infected beef and pork smuggled into Europe from Asia were blamed for outbreaks of foot-and-mouth disease and classical swine fever, Roeder said. Roeder said he wouldn’t be surprised if frozen poultry meat from Asia is entering Europe illegally. He said another worry is the trade of manure-based fertilizers and animal feed, which often contains ground up poultry parts, from infected countries. FAO is examining what role they could play in the spread of H5N1. [Late of FAO to say this; bird conservationists have been attempting to highlight potential role of poultry manure for some time.]

                      Vietnam, where most human infections and deaths have occurred, launched a nationwide poultry vaccination campaign last year and has intensified surveillance and public awareness. It has not detected any outbreaks in poultry for four months and no human cases have been reported since November. Its success has boosted demand for poultry as more Vietnamese shed their fears of eating infected meat. That, in turn, has fueled the smuggling. Smuggled birds typically come from large Chinese farms where high volume and low feed prices keep overall costs low. The poultry can be resold in Vietnam for up to five times more, depending on the market. For instance, older chickens that no longer lay eggs can be bought by smugglers for about 14,000 dong (88 cents) per kilogram, and can end up in markets in Hanoi and other cities.

                      In the Vietnamese border town of Lang Son, such birds fetch 37,000 dong (US$2.34) a kilogram _ still 10,000 dong (63 cents) cheaper per kilogram than Vietnamese-farmed chicken, said Do Van Duoc, director of the Lang Son Department of Animal Health. In Vietnam, no outbreaks have been directly linked to smuggled poultry from China. But it’s market inspector Lanh Van Nghe’s biggest fear. He leads an eight-man team responsible for stopping all Chinese poultry and eggs from entering Vietnam along a 100-kilometer (62-mile) stretch of border near the town of Dong Dang _ too few to be really effective, he says. Dirt paths, some as wide as roads, have been worn into the landscape by traffickers toting in everything from bootlegged DVDs to shoes and electronics. "Sometimes we lay our ambush until two or three in the morning," Nghe said. "Nearly a month ago, the smugglers built a cart, so they could use the railway here to transport up to eight cages of chickens. They moved the smuggled chickens for two kilometers to evade a checkpoint."


                      Martin W

                        A ProMED-mail post

                        ProMED-mail is a program of the
                        International Society for Infectious Diseases

                        Date: 30 Apr 2006
                        From: Joe Dudley

                        The below article [2] published on 16 Mar 2005 by Thanh Nien News
                        contains a detailed description of the various transportation systems
                        used in the trans-frontier poultry smuggling trade between China and
                        Viet Nam.

                        This article includes an interesting statement that “old hens” [spent
                        layer hens] comprise a significant proportion of the live poultry
                        smuggling trade between Viet Nam and China. It should also be noted
                        in this context that bulk sales of “old birds” — most probably spent
                        layer hens — by commercial poultry producers were implicated as a
                        possible contributing factor in at least one human bird flu cluster
                        in Turkey (see 20060111.0100).

                        Research presented at the 6th International Symposium on Avian
                        Influenza (3-6 Apr 2006) indicate that there are at least 2 reasons
                        why this factor may be significant:

                        1. Genetics research on H5N1 strains circulating in Viet Nam
                        indicates that there was at least one new introduction of an H5N1
                        strain from China to Viet Nam during 2005. (The reference to the new
                        introduction of H5N1 to Viet Nam during 2005 came from a presentation
                        by Robert Webster, and the finding was published in a PNAS paper this
                        past February 2006 — PNAS 103(8), see pg 2847, column 2 PP 2.)

                        2. Experimental studies have shown that vaccinated chickens can
                        harbor and transmit the H5N1 virus without showing any outward signs
                        of infection, and that vaccinated chickens as well as domesticated
                        ducks can serve as infectious asymptomatic carriers of the Asian H5N1
                        HPAI virus. (The reference for transmission by vaccinated chickens is
                        M. Bublot et al. of Merial (David Swayne of USDA SEPRL co-author),
                        and for transmission in vaccinated ducks is J.A van der Groot et al
                        (CIADC, Leystadt)).

                        See also: Chen et al. Establishment of multiple sublineages of H5N1
                        influenza virus in Asia: Implications for pandemic control. PNAS
                        103(8), 2845-2850).

                        The proceedings of the 6th International Symposium on Avian Influenza
                        will be published in the December 2006 issue of Avian Diseases, and
                        the contributed papers should provide many valuable new insights into
                        the mechanisms underlying the spread of the H5N1 bird flu during
                        2005/2006 from Asia into the Middle East, Europe, and Africa.

                        Joseph P. Dudley, Ph.D.
                        Chief Scientist
                        EAI Corporation
                        4301 North Fairfax Drive, Suite 200
                        Arlington, VA 22203

                        Date: 1 May 2006
                        From: ProMED-mail
                        Source: Thanh Nien News, 16 Mar 2006 [edited]

                        Concerns mount as Chinese chickens illegally flow into Viet Nam

                        The growing illegal import of chickens from China to Viet Nam via
                        northern border gates has become a concern for the country, as the
                        smuggling poses a threat to Viet Nam’s attempts to contain the bird flu.

                        Although the Vietnamese prime minister has issued a ban on the import
                        and transportation of poultry from other countries in order to
                        control the spread of bird flu, smugglers have managed to set up an
                        elaborate system to get chickens from China across the border
                        unchecked. Up to 70 percent of chickens smuggled via the northern
                        border into Lang Son province have escaped proper checks from border
                        guards and police forces, said Captain Le Quang Dao, head of the
                        border guard station surrounding the Huu Nghi International Border Gate.

                        According to a Thanh Nien investigation, smugglers have designed a
                        sophisticated system to illegally import chickens from China.

                        1st, the chickens from China are gathered at certain areas near the
                        Huu Nghi Border Gate. From there, smugglers hire porters carrying
                        empty cages to walk up the mountain paths in the area during the night.

                        The porters then bring the cages, which each contain 40 chickens,
                        down to the mountain foot where a fleet of Minsk motorbike drivers
                        await to carry the cages into Lang Son town. In order to avoid being
                        caught, the motorbike drivers drive at high speeds of 80 to 90 km per
                        hour. From Lang Son town, trucks then transport the smuggled chickens
                        to other localities.

                        Chinese chickens are usually bought at 12 000 to 13 000 VND [USD
                        0.75-0.82] per kilogram at border gates and then resold for 17 000
                        VND [USD 1.06] in Lang Son town, according to smugglers who have been
                        caught. In other provinces, the price of illegally traded chickens
                        can go up to 40 000 VND [USD 2.50].

                        To ensure they don’t get caught, smugglers also have people hanging
                        around near the offices of police and border guards. These people are
                        assigned to immediately sound the alarm when an officer leaves the

                        But, most smugglers are unaware of the dangers they pose by bringing
                        the unchecked chickens into the country. Even worse, some do not care
                        about their health or the health of others.

                        On 16 Mar 2006, police forces stopped a truck carrying some 1.6 tons
                        of chickens smuggled from China. The chickens, worth an estimated 20
                        million VND [USD 1255] were then transferred to market monitors for
                        destruction. Most of the chickens were old hens, with some already
                        dead. According to local residents, the Chinese people have sold such
                        chickens to Viet Nam but then go to markets along the border to buy
                        Vietnamese chickens.

                        When An Thi Binh from Bac Giang province was arrested as the truck
                        owner of the smuggled chickens, she showed no fear that the chickens
                        could possibly carry the bird flu. So far, “nothing has happened to
                        other people trading chickens like me. If anything happens, I will be
                        the 1st to die,” she said.

                        According to Captain Dao, all smuggled chickens caught by police or
                        border guards have been destroyed.

                        [Byline: Manh Quan]


                        [Between the laxly supervised export of commercial poultry and the
                        efficient illegal export of live poultry, _vide supra_, and poultry
                        parts (see previous postings), there is much to concern the rest of
                        us. We are fortunate that Viet Nam has a vaccination policy. – Mod.MHJ]

                        Date: 1 May 2006
                        From: ProMED-mail
                        Source: AP, CNN, 30 Apr 2006 [edited]

                        Smuggled Pets Worry Bird Flu Watchdogs

                        Bird flu entering the U.S. through smuggled wildlife is a growing
                        worry for government officials already on the lookout for migrating
                        wild birds. The concern over the trade in wild animals, pets and
                        animal parts has some precedent, here and abroad.

                        Gambian rats imported from Africa brought the monkeypox virus to the
                        United States in 2003. They infected prairie dogs purchased as pets.
                        72 people in the Midwest became ill but none died.

                        In 2004, 2 Crested Hawk-Eagles carrying the virulent strain of the
                        H5N1 bird flu virus were seized from the hand luggage of a Thai
                        passenger at Brussels International Airport in Belgium. The passenger
                        had planned to sell the birds to a Belgian falconer. Not one of the
                        25 people exposed to the virus became ill. Officials killed 200
                        parrots and 600 smaller birds that had contact with the Crested

                        “We’re very concerned about it coming into the U.S. by whatever
                        means,” Assistant Secretary of State Claudia McMurray said.

                        A surveillance plan for monitoring migratory birds says a migrating
                        wild bird is the most likely carrier of the H5N1 virus. The plan,
                        developed by the Interior and Agriculture departments and the state
                        of Alaska for use in all 50 states, also says the virus could arrive
                        through smuggled poultry, an infected traveler, black-market trade in
                        exotic birds or even an act of bioterrorism.

                        Authorities in other countries are similarly wary. An estimated 4 500
                        chickens from China are smuggled into Viet Nam every day, and the
                        H5N1 virus has shown up in samples taken from some of the confiscated

                        The United States and China are the biggest markets for an estimated
                        USD 10 billion global trade in illegal wildlife. The black market in
                        wildlife and wildlife parts is 2nd only to trafficking in arms and
                        drugs. “It’s not just a matter of the U.S. telling China, ‘Clean up
                        your act.’ The 2 of us are both going to get a handle on it
                        together,” said McMurray, head of the State Department’s Bureau of
                        Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs.

                        About 330 000 live birds were imported into the United States in
                        2004. Just 374 were denied entry, suggesting smugglers may focus on
                        different routes. The ones denied entry came mainly from Mexico,
                        Guyana and Ghana. The biggest sources of live birds were Canada, with
                        117 000; Taiwan, 50 000; Tanzania, nearly 40 000; and Belgium, 24 000.

                        The U.S. banned imports of all live birds, bird parts and bird
                        products from Cambodia, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Laos,
                        South Korea, Thailand and Viet Nam in February 2004. Since then, the
                        ban has been expanded to any country or region where bird flu is
                        thought to exist.

                        “The borders are where the increased emphasis needs to be,” said
                        Simon Habel, director of TRAFFIC North America, which works closely
                        with the U.N. Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species
                        of Wild Fauna and Flora, based in Geneva, Switzerland. “There’s an
                        endless string of clever ways people try to bring birds and animals
                        into the country,” said Habel, whose trade-monitoring network is a
                        joint program of the World Wildlife Fund and IUCN-The World Conservation

                        More than 200 Fish and Wildlife Service special agents also do
                        old-fashioned police work to try to stop the trade. “The problem is
                        illegal trade that’s underground, where smugglers are bypassing that
                        whole structure of quarantine and permits,” said Nicholas
                        Throckmorton, an agency spokesman.

                        An additional 120 agency field officers inspect wildlife shipments at
                        35 ports, airports and other locations, alongside Customs and Border
                        Patrol officials. The State Department hopes to also enlist private
                        businesses in that effort. “The labeling on these items that come in,
                        people don’t tell the truth about what’s in them,” McMurray said.
                        “That’s part of the reason why I want to talk to the airlines, the
                        shippers, the Fed-Exes and the UPSes of the world and say, ‘Help us
                        with this.'”

                        [Byline: John Heilprin]


                        [While one might argue that infected smuggled birds present no risk
                        because they will die en route or end up in an urban pet store — a
                        similar argument to that about regularly vaccinated unexposed
                        apartment dogs being at zero risk of rabies, so why go to the expense
                        of ensuring their vaccination — the reality is that the volume of
                        smuggled wildlife, including birds, is vast. Thus, even if only a
                        trivial proportion are likely to come in contact, directly or
                        indirectly, with poultry, thus potentially generating a really
                        significant volume of virus, the outcome of trivial .P x 1000’s of
                        birds comes to mean something in epidemiologic reality.

                        Our young members will not remember the parrot craze of the early
                        1970s. Parrots in unbelievable numbers were moved out of Africa and
                        South America to the northern latitudes, legally and illegally. This
                        resulted in Newcastle disease epidemics in the Middle East and
                        Eastern Europe, and in the USA, UK, and Western Europe. The cost was
                        enormous. – Mod.MHJ]

                        [see also:
                        Avian influenza, poultry vs migratory birds (15) 20060429.1240
                        Avian influenza, poultry vs migratory birds (14) 20060422.1176
                        Avian influenza, poultry vs. migratory birds (13) 20060414.1114
                        Avian influenza – poultry vs. migratory birds (12) 20060413.1099
                        Avian influenza, poultry vs migratory birds (11) 20060412.1088
                        Avian influenza, poultry vs migratory birds (10) 20060324.0907
                        Avian influenza, poultry vs migratory birds (09) 20060320.0867
                        Avian influenza, poultry vs migratory birds (08) 20060309.0749
                        Avian influenza, poultry vs migratory birds (07) 20060305.0721
                        Avian influenza, poultry vs migratory birds (06) 20060303.0670
                        Avian influenza, poultry vs migratory birds (05) 20060228.0645
                        Avian influenza, poultry vs migratory birds (04) 20060227.0638
                        Avian influenza, poultry vs migratory birds (03) 20060222.0578
                        Avian influenza, poultry vs migratory birds (02) 20060218.0536
                        Avian influenza, poultry vs migratory birds 20060217.0516]

                        Martin W
                          SINGAPORE, May 3 (Reuters) –

                          A leading flu expert warned the scientific community on Wednesday against blaming the spread of the H5N1 virus on migratory birds, saying the movement of poultry around the world could play a major role. "We forget that there is an enormous commercial industry with the movement of animals all the time. That, to me, is the most obvious thing to look for," said Kennedy Shortridge, who spent three decades studying influenza viruses. "Don’t rush to blame migratory birds straightaway," he said in Singapore at a bird flu conference organised by the Lancet medical journal. Shortridge’s assertions would probably not sit well with many experts in this field [and many idiots in or not really in the field], who have credited the spread of the H5N1 virus in parts of Europe, Africa and the Middle East in the past few months to wild migratory birds from China’s Qinghai Lake. An outbreak of virus in Qinghai Lake last May killed thousands of birds and that particular strain of the virus has since been found in affected places in Europe, Africa and the Middle East. That gave rise to the popular theory the virus was probably brought to these places by surviving wild birds from Qinghai, in remote western China. But Shortridge questioned this, saying: "Birds go north-south, they don’t usually go east-west."

                          RAILWAY LINES OR MIGRATORY ROUTES?

                          "There’s a railway line that runs from there to one side of Qinghai Lake and there’s a road that goes to the other side. If you look at the movements with H5N1, they don’t seem to tie in with migratory bird routes for the simple reason they seem to follow the Trans-Siberian railway," he added. "Lots of people don’t realize that there’s movement of poultry from one country to another, even to Nigeria, where we’ve got bird flu. People are transporting all sorts of poultry meat." Several nations are already clamping down on poultry smuggling. Vietnam is redoubling efforts to limit smuggling from China after uncovering bird flu cases in poultry in northern border areas. Bangladesh, too, is stepping up surveillance to prevent illegal shipments from bird flu-hit India. Hong Kong is also beefing up border patrols to stop live chickens and poultry meat being carried into the territory illegally from mainland China. Since re-emerging in Asia in late 2003, the H5N1 virus has killed 113 people out of 205 reported infections, most notably from Asia, Turkey and Egypt. Although it is predominantly a bird disease and most of the victims contracted the virus directly from birds, experts fear it can mutate into a form that will transmit easily among people and trigger a pandemic of catastrophic proportions…. [deleted some silly speculation by a Japanese scientist; not based on reality]

                          Poultry shipments also likely spread bird flu -expert

                          Martin W

                            Robert Webster has been chief scientific blamer of wild birds as vectors of H5N1; and yet, this recently published.

                            By Margie Mason, Associated Press | May 3, 2006
                            SINGAPORE — A top bird flu specialist predicted yesterday that the H5N1 virus will not reach the United States this year via migratory birds, and warned bird smuggling poses a bigger threat for transmitting the deadly disease.

                            Robert G. Webster, a virologist at the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, said the virus will eventually arrive in the United States, possibly carried by infected birds illegally brought into the country.
                            ”While wildlife people in the United States are watching for the appearance of this virus, I would suspect that it may not come this year,” he said, adding it has been rare for bird flu viruses to reach the Americas from Europe.
                            ”If it doesn’t come this year, don’t relax, because it will eventually come,” said Webster, in Singapore for a two-day conference that is expected to draw leading bird flu experts.

                            Webster said he is most concerned about H5N1 becoming established in the world’s wild bird populations because most highly pathogenic bird flu viruses usually do not last long in nature. They typically start in wild birds, infect domestic birds and eventually die out.
                            ”This one has broken the rules and gone back from the domestics into the wild birds. Is it going to be perpetuated there as a killer? That’s the million-dollar question,” he said….

                            Smuggling a threat to carry bird flu to US, specialist says
                            Says migratory birds are not a concern this year

                            notion of a disease “being perpetuated there as a killer” is quirky.

                            Webster not much into natural selection, all this new-fangled evolution theory (from Darwin on) it seems.
                            Yes, not alone in this; seems to many people, viruses don’t evolve, they just mutate, and chance dictates outcome; I’ve even seen one guy suggestion a human pandemic could happen via magical mutation. Very odd.

                            Martin W

                              It’s taken way too long, but at last more concerted efforts by conservationists to try to put record straight re migratory birds and H5N1.

                              WASHINGTON (AP) – Trade in animals, both legal and illegal, is a more
                              likely culprit in spreading bird flu than wild migrating birds, some
                              of the world’s top wild bird experts said Friday.

                              Bird flu has spread from Asia throughout Europe and Africa, but it
                              hasn’t yet reached North America.

                              “Wild bird monitoring is important, but the real threat comes from
                              trade in poultry,” John Flicker, the National Audubon Society’s
                              president, said after a Capitol Hill briefing.

                              Peter Johan Schei, director of Norway’s Fridtjof Nansen Institute and
                              chairman of BirdLife International, a global alliance of conservation
                              organizations, said the United States and other governments should
                              boost trade protections but not lessen attention to bird migration

                              Schei and Leon Bennun, BirdLife International’s science policy
                              director, agreed that illegally imported poultry and other animal
                              products pose the most immediate risk.

                              “It doesn’t mean we have to stop monitoring wild birds,” Bennun said.

                              Senior U.S. administration officials have said they, too, worry about
                              the bird flu arriving through the estimated $10 billion US global
                              trade in wild animals, pets and animal parts. Hundreds of federal
                              agents from several government agencies are policing borders, ports,
                              airports and other places.

                              Graham Wynne, head of Britain’s Royal Society for the Protection of
                              Birds, said it’s not just a U.S. problem.

                              “Virtually every government around the world is putting too little
                              emphasis on trade and poultry,” Wynne said. “You really can’t do too
                              much vigilance on the movement of poultry products because that’s
                              going to be the most likely route in.”

                              Wild bird experts say the virus appears to be spreading along trade
                              routes. They point to Africa’s first cases of bird flu, which were
                              discovered at a farm in Nigeria in February.

                              “Most of these outbreaks have not been directly related to the
                              migration of birds,” said Lim Kim Keang, head of the Nature Society’s
                              bird group in Singapore. He cited the daily smuggling of an estimated
                              4,500 chickens into Vietnam from China. The H5N1 virus has shown up
                              in samples taken from some of the confiscated birds.

                              Too much remains unknown about the virus, Bennun said. “That means
                              people are working largely on assumptions, and assumptions can be
                              dangerous,” he said.

                              Experts say illegal animal trade a bigger bird-flu concern than migrating fowl

                              Martin W
                                Chinese chicken is being illegally smuggled into Europe, increasing the risk of a human bird flu pandemic.

                                European Union customs authorities have been put on alert after the deception was detected last year. Since January last year 21 consignments of Chinese frozen uncooked poultry have been intercepted. Such meat is banned in the EU because of the deadly H5N1 bird flu strain and other diseases rife in China.

                                “The risks in relation to avian flu are an example of the necessity for strong measures to ensure that imports comply fully with sanitary and veterinary requirements,” said Markos Kyprianou, the European health commissioner. “The commission is alert to all potential sources, including illegal imports.”

                                “This is fraud,” said Jorg Wohajn, a spokesman for Olaf, the EU’s anti-fraud arm, which is co-ordinating efforts to crack down on the trade. “But there is also an animal and human safety aspect.”

                                There are two variants of the trade. One involves using fake papers claiming that the meat comes from another country, typically Brazil. The other involves putting boxes of poultry in consignments of legal vegetables. Scanning a container by X-ray reveals the problem but the fraudsters are becoming more sophisticated. Slovenian authorities seized packets of poultry last year that had been hidden beneath same-sized packets of broccoli and garlic. They could be found only by manual search.

                                The Chinese authorities have denied giving approval to the shipments and pledged to crack down on them. There are no figures available on the extent of the trade. The EU imported 557,000 tonnes of poultry last year, mainly from Brazil and Thailand.

                                Several European member states have declared that the threat of bird flu has receded. Cases have fallen from 100 a week in February to about five a week. However, that reflects the fact that migratory birds are nesting: when they move again later in the year the risk will grow [nonsense].

                                Washington also gave warning this month that illegally imported pets could bring bird flu to the US. In 2004 two crested hawk eagles carrying the virulent strain of the H5N1 bird flu virus were seized from a Thai passenger at Brussels airport.

                                Bird smugglers deepen threat of human flu crisis

                                Martin W

                                  Not smuggling – no international borders involved – but another news item that further indicates people in areas with poultry affected by H5N1 at least sometimes sell birds on.

                                  V v brief news item (here in full):

                                  The manager of a large industrial poultry farm in Romania was arrested Saturday night on charges of allowing the farm to sell poultry possibly infected with the bird flu virus.


                                  Martin W

                                    From 6 June Promed:

                                    My latest theory on the inexorable spread of avian influenza to Borneo and
                                    Sumatra is that movement of poultry from the Malaysia peninsula had been
                                    suppressed by fear of piracy in the South China Sea and the Straits of Malacca.

                                    After the Boxing Day Tsunami, the South China Sea was awash, so to speak,
                                    with military vessels bringing aid from foreign nations, which had the
                                    effect of reducing the fear that a smuggler of poultry might be massacred
                                    by pirates as he carried his chickens by small boat across to the islands.

                                    Apparently, piracy is once again on the increase in the South China Sea, so
                                    we can expect the current outbreak of H5N1 to dwindle in proportion to the
                                    hazard to small-craft traffic.


                                    Hugh Baker
                                    Veterinary Program Officer – Exports
                                    Canadian Food Inspection Agency/Agence canadienne d’inspection des aliments
                                    Toronto Regional Office
                                    1124 Finch Avenue West
                                    Toronto, Ontario M3J 2E2
                                    Government of Canada / Gouvernement du Canada

                                    [I have always claimed that, given 3 facts, I can come up with 4
                                    speculative epidemiologic hypotheses to explain them. It is clear that the
                                    epidemiology of H5N1 HAI is both multifactorial and multicausational, and
                                    each region will be different. Hugh’s suggestion may carry some weight.
                                    Only those in the region with special knowledge can tell us whether it has
                                    any validity or not. I would not be surprised if it is correct for the
                                    above piracy-affected areas. Piracy is a major hazard to shipping in the
                                    South China Sea and the Straits of Malacca. – Mod.MHJ]

                                    Martin W

                                      [a “machine translation”]

                                      ON ended up being accustomed to it. Virus H5N1 of the avian flu was
                                      standardized in Romania, where it made its return on May 14. Since,
                                      more than one hundred hearths were localised, including in the
                                      Rumanian capital, which saw in fear of an epidemic even if the virus
                                      did not make for the moment any human victim.

                                      The Romanians are furious because, this time, in fact any more to
                                      and from of the migratory birds of it is responsible, but several
                                      poultry stockbreeders which knew that their chickens were probably
                                      contaminated but did not hesitate to sell them at low prices to get
                                      rid some.
                                      Vasila Dardala, owner of the industrial chicken breeding
                                      Drakom Silva de Codlea, small city located at the center of Romania,
                                      and Macovei Guilder, owner of the Patiprod company of the same city,
                                      were stopped and risk 15 years of prison.

                                      STATE OF ALERT

                                      The Rumanian authorities are again in state of alert to try to stop
                                      the damage. A few tens of tons of chickens were seized in the
                                      supermarkets. “Nearly a million poultries were cut down in the
                                      areas”, declared the Minister for agriculture, Gheorghe Flutur. As
                                      for the Prime Minister, Calin Tariceanu, it dislocated their
                                      functions the president of medical national Association veterinary
                                      and its assistant. “These people are guilty of a criminal
                                      irresponsibility”, it launched.

                                      Carry of entry of the avian flu to Europe, Romania listed, since
                                      October 7, 2005, 53 hearths of the virus and spent 15 million euros
                                      to stop this plague in April.

                                      The criminal gesture of the stockbreeders of Codlea led to the
                                      contamination of Bucharest. “Approximately 50.000 birds of farmyard
                                      are high into full Bucharest, deplored the mayor, Adriean Videanu. We
                                      very seriously plan to prohibit the poultry breeding. We are a
                                      European capital where one cannot raise pigs and poultries any
                                      more.” The mayor of the capital is very criticized by the media,
                                      which reproach him its impotence vis-a-vis this plague. Exasperated
                                      by the incapacity of the authorities, the president, Traian Basescu,
                                      requested from the Rumanian department information (SRI) to seek
                                      guilty truths. The secret agents were ridiculed by confusing chickens
                                      and turkeys and by showing Hungary to have introduced the virus.

                                      The Romanians, them, retain only one thing: incapacity of the
                                      institutions of the country to communicate and regulate the problem
                                      of the avian flu.

                                      “Impotent Rumanian authorities vis-a-vis the avian flu”

                                      Martin W
                                        SINGAPORE : A 21-year-old Malaysian has been arrested for attempting to smuggle frozen ducks into Singapore through the Woodlands Checkpoint.

                                        Officers from the Immigration and Checkpoint Authority, acting on a tip-off, were on a look out for the illegal consignment on Tuesday morning when they spotted a Malaysian-registered petroleum tanker.

                                        On inspecting it, they found that the bulk tank felt “unusually cold” and had been modified.

                                        Inside, they found 276 boxes packed with 4,416 kg of frozen ducks.

                                        Customs officers foil attempt to smuggle frozen ducks into Singapore

                                        Martin W

                                          "Bird influenza ruins poultry farmers Ural FO"

                                          In the Ural federal region the repeated vaccination of poultry from the bird influenza occurs. Until today more than 8,4 million doses of anti-influenza vaccine entered into the region. It is inculcated the order of 3,9 million domestic hens and weft, of them 498 thousand passed repeated vaccination. As was noted at the session of operational staff on warning of the spread of the influenza of birds in the territory UrFO despite the fact that there are no focuies of bird influenza in the Ural regions as yet, stir around the infection already brought its fruits – local poultry processing facilities they suffer losses because of reduction in the demand for its production, it reported "uralinformbyuro". In the opinion of specialists, this situation to the hand to the unconscientious participants in the market, who hurry to illegally import to the territory of region chicken meat because of the boundary, proposing it on the dumping prices. The main flows of bird go through Kaliningrad region, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Moldavia, Poland and China. Only in the South Urals in 2005 were illegally imported 34-36 thousand tons of poultry-breeding production, which decreased the profitability of local production by 10%.

                                          – with millions of dollars spent on hunting for Tooth Fairy Bird (wild bird that can survive and sustain and spread H5N1), gotta hope that equivalent money and effort being placed in investigating poultry smuggling. Report like this suggests there should be much helpful info, should anyone care to look. (FAO and OIE: Hello….)

                                          Martin W

                                            "Ghana: Bird flu smugglers too smart for Authorities" Security agencies in the Brong-Ahafo Region have been called upon to help the bird flu monitoring teams check smugglers and importers of poultry products from La Cote d’Ivoire. The smugglers are said to be outwitting the monitoring teams who lack the logistics to effectively enforce the ban on the importation of poultry products from that country. During a press conference organised by the National Task Force on the bird flu in collaboration with United States International Development Agency (USAID), the Chairman of the Dormaa District Poultry Farmers Association, Kwabena Asamoah Asare disclosed that most of the culprits are poultry farmers in Dormaa who have resorted to the smuggling of eggs into Ghana on a large scale. He said that the smugglers were not likely to give up their diabolical trade, and appealed to the security agencies to lend their support to the task force in the monitoring operations. Last Tuesday, about 1 500 crates of smuggled eggs were seized and destroyed by a task force set up by the Dormaa District Assembly to monitor the importation of poultry products from neighbouring countries. The eggs were seized and destroyed not because they were infected by the bird flu virus but because they were smuggled in defiance of the ban against all poultry products from that country….

                                            Martin W

                                              Smuggled China poultry tracked after Mich. raid

                                              DETROIT (Reuters) – Michigan health officials said on Wednesday they
                                              were working to track frozen Chinese poultry smuggled into the United
                                              States and found in a Detroit-area warehouse in a series of raids
                                              over the past month.

                                              Officials said there was no sign the frozen chicken, duck and pigeon
                                              carcasses — some packed with entrails intact — had been
                                              contaminated with the deadly avian influenza virus.

                                              But state officials also said no testing for bird flu had been
                                              carried out by the federal food safety regulators who had taken the
                                              lead in an investigation that began in early June but was not made
                                              public until this week.

                                              The contraband poultry, some labeled as tilapia in an apparent bid to
                                              skirt an import ban, appears to have been imported in New York or New
                                              Jersey, state officials said.

                                              At least 2,000 pounds of illegally imported food was seized in late
                                              June and early July, state officials said…

                                              a following report:
                                              Goose Parts From Bird Flu-Ridden China Lost in U.S. (Update1)

                                              July 14 (Bloomberg) — U.S. inspectors are probing the disappearance of four boxes of goose intestines smuggled from China, where bird flu is spreading.

                                              The Department of Agriculture had tagged about 100 pounds of goose guts, a delicacy used in some Chinese recipes, for destruction before they disappeared last week from a Troy, Michigan, warehouse, officials said today. Agency inspectors previously found about 2,000 pounds of frozen poultry shipped illegally from China at the same warehouse.

                                              Smuggling of poultry products poses a risk for avian influenza, which has infected 230 people in 10 countries in Asia and the Middle East, killing 132. Frozen products pose less risk because they aren’t likely to spread virus to other birds, said Joseph Domenech, chief veterinary officer for the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization, based in Rome.

                                              “Nothing can be sure and everything can happen,” Domenech said in a telephone interview late yesterday. “This is smuggling and it’s totally uncontrolled.”

                                              Thousands of domesticated birds, including chickens, ducks and geese, are shipped illegally in airports in Europe every year, and health officials have said they are also concerned about H5N1 bird flu in smuggled poultry in Africa, Domenech said. Restrictions and surveillance in the U.S. probably keep the risk lower, he said.

                                              The Michigan warehouse case shows why health officials say arrival of the virus in the U.S. is inevitable, said Steve Brozak, an analyst with WBB Securities Inc. in New Jersey. He previously worked as a military liaison to the United Nations.

                                              `Troubling Trend’

                                              “It’s a troubling trend when you’re looking at the smuggling of any kind of livestock that might be vulnerable to H5N1,” he said in a telephone interview today. “This verifies that the arrival of H5N1 in America is a certainty. It’s just a matter of time.”

                                              Post edited by: martin, at: 2006/07/15 11:45

                                              Post edited by: Martin, at: 2007/01/04 19:36

                                              Martin W

                                                Strong article in the Washington Post:


                                                These traffickers haul more than 1,000 contraband chickens a day into Lang Son, one of six Vietnamese provinces along the Chinese border, flouting a chicken import ban. In doing so, heath experts say, they have also repeatedly smuggled the highly lethal bird flu virus from its source in southern China into Vietnam, where the disease has taken a devastating toll on farm birds and killed at least 42 people since 2003.

                                                As bird flu continues to spread across the Eastern Hemisphere, international health experts warn that illegal trade in poultry, poultry products and other birds is often the primary cause.

                                                “Both between and within countries, commerce is an incredibly important factor,” said Juan Lubroth, chief of infectious animal disease for the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization. “We try to press with governments that it has to be controlled or managed better. But like trafficking in humans, weapons and drugs, with poultry it’s not any easier.”

                                                Do Van Duoc, director of animal health in Lang Son, explained that the huge difference in prices on opposite sides of the border makes for a flourishing business despite the ban on poultry imports from China. Prices fluctuate, but on average, chicken that sells for 30 cents per pound or less in China can fetch a dollar or more in Vietnam.

                                                Duoc said the high cost of poultry in Vietnam also reflects the expense of importing vaccines and other medicine to combat bird flu. Chinese farmers are able to keep costs down because of the vast scale of their poultry industry and the inexpensive supply of feed and domestically produced vaccines, he said.

                                                Moreover, Duoc alleged that Chinese farmers unload chickens from areas struck by bird flu at bargain prices. In some cases, he said, the farmers tell Chinese authorities they have culled their flocks to earn government compensation and then peddle the birds to smugglers.

                                                “They try to get as much money as they can,” he said. “They are selling sick chickens because of the outbreak.”

                                                – Some time ago, on a forum, I suggested such things were happening; got pilloried by idiots
                                                Worldwide, the trade in illegal poultry and other birds is extensive, said Lubroth of the U.N. agriculture agency, though the specific scope is unknown.
                                                – millions of dollars spent in quest for the Tooth Fairy Bird, yet how much being spent on investigating this real problem?

                                                As long as high prices in Vietnam make the illicit chicken trade lucrative, it will continue, said Jeffrey Gilbert, an animal health specialist in the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization’s Vietnam office. “You can put helicopters up there, really mobilize the army and put all kinds of resources in, and it would still go on,” he said. “It’s like the Ho Chi Minh Trail.”

                                                In Vietnam, a Gateway for Bird Flu

                                                Post edited by: martin, at: 2006/07/31 03:57

                                                Martin W
                                                  The people of northern highland Lai Chau Province are worried about bird flu infection from birds smuggled across the border from their neighbour, China. They remain anxious despite the work of inspectors at provincial gates and assurances that most of the illicit fowls are confiscated. Lai Chau Animal Health Department officials say 23 attempts to traffick or trade livestock, including poultry, of unknown origin have been detected since early this year. But it is estimated that the amount totals only a third or fourth of the illicit poultry that enters the province. Almost all the animal and poultry produce consumed in Lai Chau Province is imported. Lai Chau town has ten households that slaughter poultry and most of this is believed to have been smuggled. Customers cannot distinguish between illicit and local poultry. Most of poultry sold at restaurants and markets is also said to be from illicit birds.

                                                  Northern province raises flu fear from border smuggling

                                                  Martin W

                                                    Some time ago, an H5N1 outbreak in Lhasa was traced to poultry from Lanzhou.
                                                    Lanzhou since seemed a potential source for further outbreaks in nw China.

                                                    This just in from a correspondent; also perhaps interesting:

                                                    Regarding China’s recent outbreaks in Baotou and Yinchuan, thought you may find the following info of interest (I wonder if they will be traced back to Lanzhou again).


                                                    Yinchuan Railway Station lies 6 kilometers east to the development zone, 102 kilometers north to the dividing-line station between Lanzhou and Huhhot Railways. The railway from Baotou to Lanzhou runs through the Yinchuan city from north to south, and connects the city with the nation’s arterial railways, through which cargos can be conveyed to the nation’s major coastal ports and to the Middle East and European countries.

                                                    See also this map:
                                                    China Travel Map – Railways and Train Stations

                                                    Post edited by: martin, at: 2006/10/10 02:51

                                                    Martin W

                                                      The “migration routes” expand.

                                                      Four countries grouped in the East Asean Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) forum — Indonesia, Brunei Darussalam, Malaysia and the Philippines — planned to establish a halal poultry joint company for exports to the Middle East, an Indonesia official has said.

                                                      “Currently, only Brunei in the Asean region holds a license to export halal chicken to the Middle East. An agenda on the establishment of the joint company is scheduled to be discussed at the BIMP-EAGA forum,” Deputy for Studies on Resources of Cooperatives and Small and Medium Enterprises, I Wayan Suwarja, said here Sunday.

                                                      Halal means allowed in Islam.


                                                      Martin W
                                                        IMPROPER poultry raising and sales techniques – rather than the
                                                        flights of migratory birds – play the most important role in the
                                                        spread of the deadly H5N1 bird flu virus, United Nations officials
                                                        said yesterday at a conference in eastern China.

                                                        Dr Vincent Martin, an official with the UN’s Food and Agriculture
                                                        Organization, said the spread of bird flu is mainly the result of the
                                                        world’s rapid and unregulated development of animal production to
                                                        meet the increased demand for protein.

                                                        His comments came during an international conference in Nanchang,
                                                        Jiangxi Province.

                                                        Highly concentrated domestic poultry production systems, especially
                                                        in Asia, are still using centuries-old practices that place humans
                                                        and poultry in proximity, he said.

                                                        Meanwhile, the constantly evolving nature of the virus has provided
                                                        the ideal conditions for the emergence of new strains of avian

                                                        Evidence indicates wild migratory birds play a minor role in the
                                                        long-distance spread of the virus, Martin said, adding that the main
                                                        causes of the deadly disease are the trade in poultry and poultry

                                                        Marco Barbieri, executive secretary of the Convention on Migratory
                                                        Species of the UN Environmental Program, said that despite media
                                                        attention the spread of bird flu is not widely understood.

                                                        Misinformation has led to wild birds bearing major blame for
                                                        transmission of the disease, the official said.

                                                        “This creates political pressure for ill-advised and disproportionate
                                                        policies such as the culling or harassment of wild birds and the
                                                        destruction of wetland habitats,” Barbieri said.

                                                        Other modes of transmission, such as the trade in poultry and poultry
                                                        products, the trade in caged birds and human movements may well play
                                                        a far more significant role in the spread of bird flu, he said. And
                                                        in some cases, these pathways have been underestimated and do not
                                                        receive proportionate media exposure.

                                                        “We need to present an accurate and balanced view which acknowledges
                                                        that there are a number of factors whose relative importance can
                                                        change, depending on the area or outbreak concerned,” Barbieri said.

                                                        It is clear that trade in domestic poultry has been a crucial factor,
                                                        even in transmitting avian influenza across continents, he said.

                                                        Bird flu spread tied to outdated farming

                                                        Martin W

                                                          From a Vietnamese newspaper article (appeared on Promed):

                                                          Just as bird flu resurfaced again after a one-year absence, authorities reported an alarming four tons of illegal Chinese fowl arrived in Vietnam since December last year in a northern province bordering China.
                                                          Lang Son provincial authorities also said they confiscated nearly two tons of fowl transported from China on three occasions on Tuesday alone.

                                                          In Quang Ninh province, also in the north, as the New Year was approaching last Thursday and Friday, local authorities confiscated 1.2 tons, said Nguyen Dang Truong, head of the province’s market management.

                                                          A Tuoi Tre journalist in the role of a fowl trader on Tuesday managed to convince an experienced middlemen called Trung to take him to the Na Pan Bridge in Lang Son’s Bao Lam commune bordering China.

                                                          A while further, we saw many chicken pens lying haphazardly somewhere on the Vietnam-China border.

                                                          The scene was sickening. Each pen was cramped with over 20 chickens, mostly having pale-white cheeks, dull eyes, drooping heads, feathers being stuck together and all emitting foul smells. Some even salivated.

                                                          they can earn over VND100,000 ($6.25) a trip, a fortune for rural residents.

                                                          The masterminds behind the scene, the traders – then transported the chicken, mostly very cheap, to downtown areas for sale.

                                                          Chinese fowl still imported during bird flu resurgence

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